The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty as businesses and agencies have had to adapt or suspend operations to comply with health and travel restrictions. As the Canadian government continues to monitor the situation and adjust regulations accordingly, there are some expected announcements to watch for this month.
One of the main questions people have is whether or not the travel restrictions will be lifted. Travel across the US-Canada border was restricted to essential travel on March 21, 2020, and this restriction was extended to June 21, 2020, in May. If the overall curve continues to flatten in Canada, it is possible that the restriction will be lifted on June 21 and that the restrictions on travel from other countries could be lifted after June 31.
Travel restrictions have also affected Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) draws. Previously, draws were typically held every two weeks and included candidates from a variety of programs. Since March, when travel restrictions were first put in place, the IRCC has been holding two draws, one for Canadian Experience Class (CEC) candidates and the other for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates, every few weeks.
Federal Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, has stressed the importance of immigration to strengthen the Canadian economy and fill skill gaps in the workforce, so it is expected that Canada will begin draws from the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP) again after the travel restrictions are lifted.
PNP draws are determined by the labour needs of the individual provinces. British Columbia held two draws on June 2nd, the last reported Alberta Express Entry Stream draw was May 13 and Saskatchewan’s last draw was May 28. Ontario had their tenth draw of the year on June 3rd.
In British Colombia, there is a draw nearly every week through their Tech Pilot, a program that was extended to June 2020 two years ago. Details on whether or not the pilot will be extended again are expected to be announced this month.
Quebec has its immigration system and it is expected to announce new requirements for the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) soon. It may also be introducing two pilot programs for nurses’ aides and tech workers.
In addition to travel restrictions preventing immigrants and international students from travelling to Canada, language testing centre closures due to health and travel restrictions have made it difficult for applicants to get their required tests. Although some testing centres have been able to provide temporary online alternatives for students, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) tests, essential for immigration, have been unavailable in many regions.
Testing centres for both CELPIP and IELTS are beginning to reopen in some regions. Their websites list the countries in which they are currently operating as well as the countries where they are scheduled to reopen centres this month.
Canada is also expected to announce whether the Open Work Permit Pilot will be renewed or not. The permit allows foreign national spouses or common-law partners of Canadians to work while their permanent residence application is being processed. The deadline to announce the Open Work Permit Pilot’s fifth renewal is July 31.
The Canadian government is monitoring the pandemic closely to make sure that the country is reopened safely.
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